62 Days of Summer
The George Landis Arboretum in Esperance is first and foremost an arboretum, a space where many species of trees are planted in a natural environment to be viewed by the public.
In the past two years, however, Landis has grown to be a destination for many other family-friendly summer activities.
Nature buffs and casual observers can enjoy the wide variety of specimens, and you can decide for yourself where to walk along more than 8 miles of marked trails.
There you’ll see both native New York trees and non-native plants, like the Amur Cork Tree, commonly found in Eastern Asia. If you venture further into the woods to the Ancient Forest Trail, you’ll find yourself in an old-growth forest, with trees that have been there since the Revolutionary War.
Specimens on the 0.6-mile Willow Pond Trail have identification labels, as well as QR codes (those square codes that can be read by smartphones). When you scan a Landis QR code, you can listen to Ed Miller, a Willow Pond Trail expert, tell you the name and history of the plant you’re looking at, making the arboretum much like a living museum.
While you don’t need your smartphone to enjoy the natural surroundings, the QR codes add to the experience of education that Landis has been fostering since its inception in the 1950s.
“It’s important to tell their history. Each tree has its own story,” said Fred Breglia, the arboretum’s executive director.
Breglia explained what makes arboretums like Landis so unique is that as they plant new species of trees, they are more likely to attract an array of insects, which will in turn attract different birds, reptiles, and mammals, creating a unique, diverse ecosystem.
The trails are all low-impact, including the Willow Pond Trail, where you can see plants native to New York state. The ground is dog-friendly, so you can bring your entire family to picnic and spend the day exploring the grounds.
The arboretum also has its own classroom building, where adults and children can take classes on a variety of topics, including plant and bird identification, gardening, moth-watching for kids and a full moon nature walk for the entire family.
Another destination is the perennial garden next to the visitor’s center. This spot is perfect for those who lack the energy or mobility for a longer walk. You can sit under the large birch tree by the visitor’s center and enjoy a bag lunch only feet from the garden.
Landis will host a plant, book and bake sale Saturday, Sept. 13. The biannual sale helps fund maintenance and expansion of the facilities at the arboretum.
As part of a recent expansion, the Landis Arboretum now has a venue for concerts and weddings. The building, only 500 feet from the visitor’s center, has a small indoor performance area surrounded by tables and chairs. The arboretum hosts performances almost every week over the summer, including jazz brunches and open mic nights.
The deck surrounding the building overlooks the Schoharie Valley, which has made Landis a popular destination for weddings in the past two years.
The Landis Arboretum is open 365 days a year, from dawn until dusk. It’s free, but a donation of $5 per person or $15 dollars per family is suggested.
All concerts at the arboretum begin at 7 p.m. Additional information, including dates and a list of performers, can be found at www.landisarboretum.org.
More information about classes and how to get involved with the arboretum can also be found on the website.
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